Doug Tallamy says the planet can be saved one lawn at a time.
The University of Delaware professor of entomology and wildlife ecology delivered the keynote address at the Delaware Habitat Guardians fundraiser at the Lewes Public Library Nov. 15.
His message was that conservation starts at home.
That message fits right in with what the Guardians are trying to accomplish.
The group of concerned neighbors is trying to raise money to buy and preserve a 6.7-acre parcel off Route 24, near Hetty Fisher Pond and Love Creek.
The 100-year-old forest is located between the Saddle Ridge and Belle Terre developments, right in many of those neighbors’ backyards.
“We have a whole ecosystem in there,” said Melanie Bernstein, president of Delaware Habitat Guardians.
Bernstein said the forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife. She said a pair of bald eagles has just returned to a nest for a third year.
Tallamy said a nonprofit called Homegrown National Park can help people recognize how important everyone’s role is in protecting habitats, like the forest.
“You have to choose [native] plants that pass on part of their energy so you have animals. You have to support a community of pollinators and manage the watershed,” Tallamy said. “One of the obvious things is to reduce the area of your lawn, because a lawn doesn’t accomplish any of those goals. It’s just a status symbol. Most people could cut their lawn in half without any issue at all.”
Tallamy said removing invasive species is also important.
He said protecting insects that are critical to the ecosystem is as simple as changing a light bulb. “Change your outdoor bulbs from white to yellow. Yellow lights don’t attract and kill insects,” Tallamy said.
The Guardians began their fundraising effort earlier this year. Bernstein said they have raised about $300,000 so far, but knows it will take a lot more to make a reasonable offer to the owners.
She said the parcel is currently on the market for $1.35 million.
If the group is successful, it will turn over the parcel to the Sussex County Land Trust for permanent conservation.
“There is nobody who is too small in this effort. If we band together, anything is possible,” Bernstein said.
For more information go to dehabitatguardians.org.